Creating a regular Farmers Market on ANU campus.

A draft report on the ANU Farmers Market, prepared by Nick Blood, ANUSA Environment Officer, Feb 24, 2019.

Progress so far

On February 22nd, the Friday of O-Week, ANU hosted its first ever Farmers Market. The event was well attended, with around 800 registrations pre-event, and approximately 1,000+ students, staff and Canberrans coming to visit on the day. 26 stalls participated, including businesses and community NGOs providing educational resources. A wide variety of products were available on the day including huge amounts of fresh produce – almost all of which was organic, biodynamic, or locally-sourced. Other products available included ready-made food, apparel, jewellery, plants, preserves, and much more. Businesses also included a handful of student clubs and enterprises, many of whom were experiencing their first ever market, and reported it as a success.

#nofilter – just beautiful red tomatoes straight from the earth to campus!

Who organised it?

The event was a collaborative project between ANUSA staff, ANUSA student representatives (particularly the O-Week organising team), the ANU Environment Collective, The Food Co-Op, and Slow Food Canberra. The project was created and led by ANU student Myra Escobedo.

What was/is the goal of these Farmers Markets?

First and foremost, to promote sustainability. In this context, sustainability is achieved in a range of specific ways.

  • By providing local, seasonal, organic, biodynamic and ethically-sourced food to students, staff and the local community.
  • By using the markets as an opportunity to provide information about sustainable food options, including ANU’s own Sustainable Food Guide.By providing a fun, practical, and engaging event that encourages socialization and networking, brings together a range of like-minded groups and builds a sense of community that extends beyond campus.
  • See: The Sustainability of Farmers Markets for more information.

Additionally, we want the markets to benefit ANU and the ANU community by:

  • Promoting Kambri and the ANU campus as a community hub.
  • Showcasing student initiatives, and the practical application of ANU’s education toward personal and community development.
  • Encouraging student leadership in management and ownership of the markets, and student entrepreneurs who want to participate in the markets.
  • Creating free and low-cost opportunities for community organisations contributing to sustainability to participate in the markets.
  • Building and strengthening other relationships with local community organisations and establishing ANU as a community leader and partner.  

How much did it cost to run?

Because the Farmers Market was run during O-Week many costs were covered by ANUSA. Additionally, all the work involved in organising it was done on a volunteer basis. These factors make it difficult to create an accurate estimate of the total costs to run this event. It may be possible to do a cost review with some retrospective accounting, to arrive at a more exact estimate.

How much would future markets cost to run?

Various factors would affect the cost of future markets and our ability to run them regularly:

Volunteer vs. Paid work: Relying on students and other volunteers lowers costs but risks the long-term viability of the project by depending on free labour that may not always be available. Conversely, paid work increases the financial costs but helps to ensure there is always some ownership and accountability when it comes to organising the event. Perhaps we can split the difference, and use a hybrid model that provides pay for key work, while still utilising volunteers?

Coinciding with O-Week and Bush Week vs. More regularly: Running the markets during O-Week and Bush Week would mean they are infrequent, but able to benefit from increased campus traffic during these times and arguably able to receive more support from ANU organisations hosting their own events during that time. Running them more regularly – for example, monthly – would require more commitment and management, which could mean we need paid staff.

How can we make this a regular thing on campus?

With some planning, commitment and collaboration I believe it’s possible to establish a Farmers Market on campus as a regular event. The following options lay out just a few of the many ways to achieve this.

Option 1: Using the Student Extracurricular Enrichment Fund (SEEF).

The Postgraduate Students association (PARSA) offers a grant scheme available to students and groups. The Farmers Market achieves aligns perfectly with the goals of the SEEF program and would be competitive on that basis. As a group the Environment Collective can apply for up to $5,000 in funding. Although we don’t know costs for certain right now, this is likely enough to fund the markets multiple times a year. Since SEEF projects cannot make a profit all stallholder fees (and any other profits) would be re-invested into the Sustainable Food Guide, either by providing printed copies for distribution at the Market and/or paying for content developers and designers to improve and update it. The beauty of this model is that SEEF ultimately ends up funding two projects, one directly, one indirectly. SEEF funds the Markets, and the Markets fund the Sustainable Food Guide. Both projects align with SEEF, and both help promote sustainability on campus and beyond.

My understanding is that when it comes to assessing grant applications, established groups with extant funding like us are given less priority. Additionally, recurring projects (applications for events previously funded by SEEF) are also given less priority. This doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get the money, but it does potentially reduce our chances.  

Option 2: Using the EC to fund the Markets.

Dependent upon a full cost review, it’s possible the EC can fund the Markets from its annual $10,000 budget. This solution is less ideal, however, since it would likely require a significant annual contribution from the department, reducing our ability to fund other projects in the future.

What might be more feasible is that the EC supports the Markets through non-financial means, as we did the first time. As Environment Officer my role in this project was in helping pitch the idea to ANUSA, organising initial meetings, monitoring things as it developed, and helping to smooth out the occasional bump. In the future, members from the EC could do the same thing I did; help coordinate efforts and organise the whole show.

Option 3: Stallholder funding.

Dependent on a more complete cost review, it may be possible that fees charged to stall holders for attending may be able to fund the set up.

We made $680 in stallholder fees for our first run. We charged larger businesses $55, smaller businesses $35, student businesses $15, and gave free spots to community NGOs and business partners like the Food Co-Op which helped co-organise the event.

If a slight increase in fee amounts could help make the event financially feasible, that option could be explored. It’s not likely that the current fee structure alone is enough to support the event, unless perhaps a larger number of businesses participated.

Option 4: Support from ANU.

Given the range of benefits to ANU, other ANU organisations beyond ANUSA/PARSA may be able to provide financial and other support. ANU Green, ANU Communications, ANU Gardens and Grounds, ANU Facilities and Services, and potentially other ANU executives and academics could all play a positive role in helping support this event. I’m currently exploring ways to reach out and work with these groups and others, to see what might be possible.

What else could the markets do in the future?

Encourage more student business

Wider promotion of the event, and more targeted invitations prior to it, could result in a larger and more diverse participation from students as businesses.

Music: We could establish a handful of “busking” spots around the market where students can perform for passers-by. Larger events (including loudspeakers and bands/shows) might be possible further down the line.

Art: Whether live sketching, painting, sculpting and other creations, or showcasing (and if they like, selling) prior works on the day, the markets can be a fun way for artistic students to engage with the community and promote their work and the arts more broadly.

Food: Student clubs and societies have a proven track record as fantastic event caterers! In the past there have been a range of themed food events run by various student-led organisations: African food, Asian night markets, Momo-making, and on the list goes. These markets could be excellent fundraisers for student organisations and offer them a way to engage with students and the broader community.

Other student business: The possibilities for more student involvement here are broad. On campus there are likely many other things students are doing that could provide value to the market. Beyond campus, other educational institutions involve students creating value too. At CIT, for example, horticulture students raise plants for sale at their own markets – and may be interested in establishing themselves at ours too.

Campaign integration

The presence of the markets themselves, as well as the Sustainable Food Guide both represent an ongoing campaign for sustainable food consumption and production. Models like Option 1, that provide not only the markets

Even on their own, however, the markets offer an opportunity for student campaigners operating in the sustainability space to reach a like-minded audience. At our first markets, we handed out lots of flyers for an upcoming rally on climate change. Other campaigns could likewise use the markets for added exposure.

Encourage more NGO participation

A small number of organisations were present at the markets in an educational or advocacy role including the ANU Environment Collective, distributing the Sustainable Food Guide and information about other NGOs. It would be good to see more participating, such as Conservation Council ACT, SEE Change, AAEE, and so on.

Encouraging more ANU Organisations to participate

Do other ANU organisations have something to contribute? Is there some research or other projects, amenable to presentation at a market stall, that could the benefit the community?


Money and Department Funding

The following is an introductory guide to some key terms and important processes related to our department’s finances, including how much money we get and where we get it from, how we can spend it, and other important details. 

The Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF): This is where ANUSA draws most of its funding from, and hence, where the collective gets its funding from. The SSAF is a government-enforced fee paid by each ANU student, which is then pooled together shared between various organizations including ANUSA, the postgraduate equivalent (PARSA), the student media outlets Woroni and ANU Observer, and other organizations like ANU Sport.

Department Funding: The collective receives a baseline of $10,000 each year from ANUSA. We enjoy a great deal of autonomy in what we can use this money to fund, and thus can support a broad range of projects. Any unspent funds from this allocation are returned to ANUSA at the end of the year, typically around December 1st.

Shared Department Funding: The seven departments also have access to a second shared pool of funds. Totalling $40,000, this money can be spent if 4/7 departments approve the funding. Access for the collective to this money is not certain, but it does seem particularly useful for cross-departmental collaboration on shared projects, in alignment with our own intersectional approach.

Honoraria: At the end of the year, each department is given approximately $5,000 in honoraria (money payments to distribute to members). Since the collective cannot afford paid staff, the purpose of honoraria is to say thanks to members for any time and other resources they have contributed to the collective throughout the year. Honoraria is typically given to members who have lead events and other projects, assisted in executive and administrative roles, and otherwise assisted the collective.

External funding: Our financial autonomy extends to collaboration with other groups. Given that the future of SSAF is uncertain and we could potentially lose our funding in the long-term, we should look to establish projects and relationships that can achieve our goals without requiring significant financial commitments. Partnerships with business, ANU and external grants, as well as other sources of funding can not only build resilience in the long-term, but also amplify our short-term capabilities too.

Operating non-hierarchically

Our constitution exemplifies the spirit in which we operate, where all members in the collective are considered equals. What does it mean to operate non-heirarchically, though? Here are some examples of what “non-heirarchical” means in practical terms:

  • Democratic decision-making: The officer acts as a meeting facilitator and administrator. They do not have unilateral decision-making power. Decisions including funding are voted on collectively between members, and group consensus is sought.
  • Autonomy and Empowerment: Members and others are free to propose events, campaigns, and other projects. They are also free and encouraged to share comments, suggestions, questions, and concerns.
  • Transparency: A culture of openness encourages member understanding of key processes and engagement with critical information. The officer and other executives will endeavour to communicate important information in a timely fashion, across all official channels, and in a way that is understandable.
  • Accessibility: We want diversity in our membership and broader engagement from students. We can help achieve that by continuing to lower the barriers to member’s participating in what we do. Online meetings, online voting, and virtual workshops / online projects are all examples of future ways we can run things that increase accessibility for members.  

The Student Representative Council (SRC)

Explaining the SRC and the Officer’s reporting responsibilities. 

Could be converted to a page instead to store reports?

Slack 101

A guide to Slack: Getting started, how it works, and what we use it for. 

Welcome from the 2019 Officer

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Welcome to the new website!

Hello from your incoming Environment Officer! After a hiatus without a website we are now back online for 2019, hurray! I’ll attempt to track down any information from the old website if possible, but for now I’m focused on building a functional space here.     

This site can help promote and explain what we do, hopefully building student engagement. It’s still under construction, and will likely be undergoing many changes ahead of a full launch for the 2019 academic year, starting in O-Week. If you’d like to get involved helping with the website, please get in touch!